Don’t Apologize

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2014 is the year of women! Women are speaking out about equal pay, education, and being in control of their career. You are the next generation and you have a say in how things will be done.  Speaking up and being assertive is about finding and using your voice. You will learn that you are your best advocate. We as women are very good at advocating for others, but not for ourselves. This needs to stop.  I know what some of you may be thinking, if we speak up or we are assertive, people will think we’re bossy or other B words.  This is what we have been taught by society and culture, but that is wrong. Speaking up and being assertive is about saying what you want to say even when people don’t agree. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about having to be right or being mean, or bringing others down.  It’s actually about empowerment, being a leader, and making a difference. During the next hour, we will discuss how to find our voice, how communication is key, and why all of this matters. When you leave this presentation, my hope is that you will leave here knowing that speaking up and being assertive is not something you need to apologize for.

To begin with let’s define being assertive vs. being aggressive.  Being assertive is being self-assured and confident, not cocky or arrogant.  Being aggressive is about attacking and confronting people.  Assertiveness has to do with how you conduct yourself and aggressiveness is how you conduct yourself with others.  We as women need to be able to speak up and be assertive for many reasons.  Everyone wants to be heard and listened to. It’s beyond frustrating when we don’t feel we are being listened to or understood

  Many girls find it difficult to be assertive and speak up because we are taught to not be that way. We receive mixed messages and it can be confusing So what do we do? A lot of that depends on our confidence level. Communication is a HUGE part of being able to speak up and be assertive.  How we talk about ourselves speaks volumes to others.  Peggy Klaus who wrote, BRAG… says that she learned early on in her career that if she wanted to succeed she would have to speak up and that she could be both warm and strong.  When we are confident in ourselves and know who we are, than we are able to succeed.  Let me give you an example. I am going to introduce myself in two ways and you tell me which one is more confident. We have discussed that we are taught not to brag, but there is a way for women to brag and not be seen as arrogant.  Remember, if it’s the truth, it’s not bragging.  Peggy Klaus created the term bragologue- this is where you share your story with others about your skills, abilities, and interests.  Some of the questions she has people answer to create their bragologue are what new skills have you learned this year? What are some of your hobbies?  In what ways are you making a difference in the lives of others?  All you are doing is sharing your story.  So now turn to your neighbors and tell them a skill, ability, and interest that you have.  Being able to communicate will help you with your family, friends, school, and a career. You speak up and are assertive every day and may not realize it.  You can all use your voice when something is important to you.  In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg says it’s important to sit at the table. She means that when you are in a meeting or in class and something is important to you, to speak up and say so. Many women sit in silence for fear of rejection or being unsure of themselves. Don’t be like that, speak up.  Here are two strategies to help you do that: 1) Fake it til you make it. When you walk into a room and feel nervous pretend that for a few minutes you are someone else. I guarantee you it will make a difference. I’ve done it before!  A 2nd thing that you can do when you are introducing yourself is to pretend you are introducing your best friend. We would of course say wonderful things about our best friend.   The thing is the more you say positive things about yourself, the more you will start to believe it and then it will become natural to you.  No one is going to promote you or speak up for you but you. Let’s practice- Tell us about your best friend- Now tell us about yourself the same way you told us about your best friend

 There’s a quote on Pinterest that I am sure many of you have seen- it’s one of my favorites: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Boss. This means that you are in your charge of your life and your career. It doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want to all the time or break rules or hurt people. It means that you can behave like a lady but always be growing and learning and thinking about what’s my next step. I’ll graduate high school, then I’ll go to college, then I’ll get a job etc. It means that when you want a later curfew, you ask for it and explain why you deserve it, when you want to make All A’s you work hard to get there. You are responsible for you.  If you will use your strengths, talents, and abilities in school and in finding a career than you will be successful. My example   The reason that using your voice to speak up and be assertive is important is so that you can obtain what you want in life- if it’s to be a doctor, an artist, to have a family, or all of the above. You can do it if you will be confident, communicate, and know who you are.  

You have the power to change the world by speaking up and being assertive about the issues that matter to you. Be confident in who you are and like yourself first. Be willing to be different and stand out from the crowd. It’s not going to be easy to do these things but it’s worth it. You’re worth it, so stand up, speak up, and be heard.

             

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